Our world: A young man of conscience gets thrown in jail while an old dictator is about to be set free

Quinn Norton writes: Somewhere in the Iraqi desert in 2009 in the middle of a flailing war, a soldier committed a seemingly small crime. Private Bradley Manning didn’t kill anyone, or rape anyone, but by nabbing information from his commanders and giving it to WikiLeaks, he lit up the world, like a match discarded into a great parched forest.

Bored and depressed by army life, Manning started hanging out on the WikiLeaks IRC channel with its controversial founder, Julian Assange. It began as a simple act of communication no different in most respects from millions of casual chats that meander daily through uncounted online forums. Manning would occasionally get into conversations and debates, which he would say nourished him in a court statement years later. “[They] allowed me to feel connected to others even when alone. They helped me pass the time and keep motivated throughout the deployment.”

Manning described the WikiLeaks IRC channel as “almost academic in nature,” and Assange, years after the channel had vanished, agreed: “… the public IRC channel was filled with technical, academic, and geopolitical analysis, with many interesting people from different countries.” Assange said it wasn’t unusual for the channel to be visited by soldiers, like Manning. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email